Picture of Cindi Juncal

Cindi Juncal

We Get More By What We Give: The Kindness Cure

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  – Mahatma Ghandi

It may seem paradoxical that one of the best ways to fill one’s spiritual well when feeling empty, is to give more away. And yet, I can easily say that the quickest way out of my own suffering and self-absorption is to simply focus on what I can do for others – and I’m not alone. Acting out of compassion and selflessness is deeply intertwined with not just our social and psychological makeup, but turns out it’s in our biology as well.

According to a February 2019 article by Cedars-Sinai called The Science of Kindness, engaging in altruism can release hormones that contribute to our mood and overall well being. The practice is so effective, it’s being formally incorporated into some types of psychotherapy. Dr. Waguih W. Ishak, a professor of psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai wrote, “We all seek a path to happiness. Practicing kindness towards others is one we know works.”

One reason why kindness can be chemical relies heavily on oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin is the hormone that mothers produce when they breastfeed, which in turn helps cement the bond with their babies. It is also released during physical intimacy and is tied to making us more trusting, generous and friendlier, while having the added benefit of lowering blood pressure.

Dr. Ishak also notes that random acts of kindness can release dopamine, another chemical messenger that is credited with giving us a feeling of euphoria, leading to what’s known as a “helper’s high.” In addition to boosting oxytocin and dopamine, being kind can also increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. But while the physical rewards of kindness are numerous and beneficial, there’s a catch, says the doctor. “Biochemically, you can’t live on the 3-4 minute oxytocin boost that comes from a single act. The trick you need to know is that acts of kindness have to be repeated.”

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”  – Pablo Picasso

Working altruism and charity into our daily routine is neither back-breaking nor difficult, but it does take a certain mindfulness and intent that doesn’t always come automatically. Compassion, good will, and generosity are not like pie – we don’t have less by giving more away and yet sometimes we hoard it as if saving for a rainy day. One of the best and easiest ways to cultivate a meaningful kindness practice is through volunteerism. 

It’s not difficult to argue that volunteerism stands as a beacon of magnanimity, offering assistance to those in need while forging meaningful personal interrelationships by becoming part of a supportive network bonded by shared values and goals. Offering one’s time can also provide opportunities to engage with individuals facing various challenges or difficulties, allowing the volunteer to gain insight into the struggles and triumphs of others. This in turn fosters a deeper understanding of complex human experiences and heightens empathy while promoting a more compassionate society.

When we live in alignment with the values we hold dear in our hearts, we are naturally led to a sense of inner peace and contentment. It’s good to be kind and being kind is good for the soul.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

This service-oriented mindset can be demonstrated by the Japanese principle of IKIGAI, which refers to finding one’s purpose, or reason for being. It is often described as the intersection of what one loves, what one is good at, and what the world needs. When applied to volunteerism, IKIGAI can serve as a powerful motivator for individuals to become involved in giving back to their communities by combining their skill set with their personal passions and long term goals. In fact, this culture of community and connection is what characterizes most of the Blue Zones, regions around the world where people are known to live longer, healthier lives compared to the global average. 

These five areas scattered around the planet (Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, United States) have been studied extensively by researchers seeking to understand the factors contributing to their inhabitants’ longevity and well-being. Along with other lifestyle factors like nutrition and physical movement, it is altruism, a sense of purpose, and service to others which have emerged as common denominators, playing an integral role in fostering the sought-after benefits and vitality observed within these communities. 

Residents of Blue Zones are also characterized by strong social networks that prioritize relationships with family, friends, and neighbors. Helping others is woven into the fabric of daily life and they readily offer assistance and support to anyone in need, providing a vital network of connectedness and sense of belonging. 

“Every small, unselfish action nudges the world into a better path. An accumulation of small acts can change the world.”  – Robin Hobb, “Fool’s Fate”

So if kindness is being considered by scientists as a treatment for pain, depression and anxiety; and if kindness in the form of service to others can reduce disease and foster longevity, it seriously begs the question: What are we waiting for? 

In our never-ending quest for the ‘magic pill’ to end all our woes, could it be that simply being kind is the prescription to end all prescriptions? The best part of this pharmaceutical analogy is that unlike drugs, the cure is FREE – it literally costs nothing, but has the potential to cure everything. 


Cindi is President and Founder of The Noble Path Foundation, a 501(c)(3) located in San Clemente, CA, dedicated to helping the youth of our communities reach their highest potential via healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices, safe and fun social activities, and motivational mentoring. For sources and links to the statistics mentioned in this article, or to volunteer, please visit our website at ​www.thenoblepathfoundation.org.



Help others—be happy? The effect of altruistic behavior on happiness across cultures – PMC

A single act of altruism makes you feel good 

The Science of Kindness | Cedars-Sinai

(PDF) Altruism, happiness, and health: it’s good to be good | Stephen Post – Academia.edu

Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial that Altruism Moderates the Effect of Prosocial Acts on Adolescent Well-being

The Science of Good Deeds

Altruism, happiness, and health: it’s good to be good

“To make a difference in someone’s life you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect. You just have to care.”  – Mandy Hale

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